Dear GNS Families,
Charles Blondin is considered the greatest tightrope walker of all time. On June 30, 1859, he became the first person to successfully walk across the Niagara Gorge. During that summer, Blondin completed eight more crossings.
The following year, on September 15, 1860, he again precariously inched his way across the swirling, violent waters roaring below, traveling from America to Canada.
As Blondin stepped off the rope, the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts. As it subsided, Blondin called out to the crowd: “Do you believe I can cross back over the falls again?”
The crowd yelled back enthusiastically, “Yes! Yes, you can! We believe.”
“Do you believe I could cross back over carrying a man on my back?”
“Yes! Yes, we believe!”
“Do you think I can do it backwards?”
“Yes! Yes, we believe!”
Blondin asked, “So who will volunteer to go on my back while I do it?”
Blondin pointed to an onlooker nearby, “Will you?”
The onlooker shook his head adamantly – “Not me”.
“Will you?” He asked, pointing to another admirer.
“Is there anyone who will trust me?”
Blondin turned to his manager, Harry Colcord. “Harry, do you believe I can carry you across?” he asked.
“Yes, Charles, I believe you can,” Harry replied.
“Then will you trust me enough to climb onto my back?” Charles asked.
Harry replied, “I will.”
Harry Colcord stepped onto the platform with Blondin and climbed onto his back.
“Sit still and don’t move,” Blondin said, “I got you and I won’t let you fall.”
Blondin, balancing pole in hand and manager on his back, crossed the Falls.
The crowd really did believe that Blondin could cross Niagara carrying a man. But for someone to go on his back, belief was no longer sufficient. For someone to put their life in Blondin’s hands it required trust.
That’s the difference between emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust).
While emunah is intellectual belief, bitachon is acting upon one’s emunah. Bitachon is the confidence one has even in the most challenging situations, that he is in the security of G-d’s Hands.
In Egypt, after nine plagues there was no doubt that the burgeoning Jewish nation believed in G-d. They had witnessed His strength and omnipotence in a most candid manner, and how He had effortlessly ravaged the greatest superpower of its time. But before they could merit the final plague and the actual exodus, they had to demonstrate bitachon. They had to place their complete trust in G-d by placing their lives on the line in order to adhere to G-d’s command.
What’s more, before they were able to partake from the Korban Pesach, every male had to have a brit milah. Years earlier, on the third day after the males of the city of Shechem underwent circumcision, Shimon and Levi killed out all the men, who were too weak to fight back. In Egypt, the Egyptians were already seething with rage at the incredible affront of their former slaves who willfully sacrificed their gods – the lambs of Egypt. Now that the Jews would be weakened and vulnerable, the Egyptians would have their chance to exact revenge and destroy the burgeoning nation. The fact that the Jews paid no heed to that danger and placed their full trust in G-d, showed that they were indeed worthy of redemption.
R’ Asher Weiss famously tells a story where a child once asked his father why is it so difficult to believe that Hashem split the Yam Suf. If Hashem created the world, of course, he could split it into half if He wanted!
The father answered him with the following mashal, analogy: There was a sculptor who decided to create a depiction of a life-sized horse, one whose appearance was truly life-like. He worked for months on it and finally unveiled it in the town square, where it stood appearing just like any other real horse in the marketplace. For days and weeks on end, as the sculptor sat closely by, not one person stopped to admire or even look at the horse. Finally, he was astounded enough by people’s lack of attention that he asked a wise man walking in the street to look at the horse. The wise man said it’s fine, but we see real horses all the time – why should a horse catch our attention? If you want people to really stop and stare, you should cut it into half and stand each half side by side – then people will be astounded to see a real horse cut into two with equal parts standing side by side each other.
Explained the father to his son, if people would have taken notice of Hashem’s miracles that occur on a daily basis, there would have been no need for Hashem to split the sea, but because we are so accustomed to life’s daily occurrences and fail to see Hashem’s miracles continuously, Hashem had to split the sea, so we’d be aware of who He is.
Katie and I wish for our community to experience an uplifting conclusion to the end of Pesach, one where our bitachon in Hashem is strengthened and Hashem in turn, restores the blessings of health, prosperity and peace to the world. Chag Sameach!